Houdini Main Titles

Client

A&E Television Network / Lionsgate

Our Part

In addition to a series of graphic passage of time sequences for this limited series, we created an underwater main title sequence for nights 01 & 02.

Main Title – When we first received the request to pitch for the main title work, we responded with a concept that would require shooting underwater in an isolated cove on Catalina Island. Logistics and timing got in the way and we instead moved our shoot to the backyard pool at Eric’s house (thank you, Katie!). A massive stick was shoved into the machinery when the props of shackles, handcuffs, and keys arrived from Romania, where the series was filmed. Almost all of the props were made of foam and painted to look like steel and foam, um, doesn’t sink so well. So, in the 24 hours leading up to the shoot day, we scoured every prop house in Los Angeles and luckily, found enough to get the job done.

We got with our old pal Michael Pescasio to man the unwieldy underwater housing which housed a very expensive Phantom Flex4K camera. Shooting anywhere between 900 and 1200 frames per second, we managed to grab the moments we were looking for to complete the edit.

Graphic Sequences – We seem to have created a niche for ourselves in period specific passages of time. In our case, we provide creative ways to present headlines that help jump ahead in the story. For this miniseries, we leaned on some footage that we shot over a decade ago at Aardvark Letterpress in downtown LA. Of course, that footage was laid to tape in the standard definition format and we had to employ fancy scaling algorithms to up-rez to HD. Once that process was finished, we set out creating front pages of era specific newspapers and composited then into the running letterpress footage.

The Series

His ability to escape from handcuffs, straitjackets, and water tanks is legendary ― breaking the shackles of his past proved more challenging. Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody (THE PIANIST) and Kristen Connolly (“House of Cards”) star in HISTORY®’s HOUDINI which follows the world-renowned master of escape’s transformation from immigrant into the world’s first superstar. Driven, disciplined, and actively chasing the American Dream, Houdini constantly pushed his physical limits to accomplish feats of strength that amazed audiences in an age of spectacle. And though they saw what he wanted them to see, his reality was more elusive than his escapes.

Filming on the miniseries began on September 30, 2013. It was shot entirely in Budapest, Hungary (coincidentally the real Harry Houdini’s birthplace), which executive producer Gerald W. Abrams described as having “more turn-of-the-century architecture—that’s the 19th century—than almost any city in Western culture.” Brody, who had studied magic as a child, performed many of the show’s stunts himself, including the suspended strait jacket escape and the famous Chinese Water Torture Cell.

Behind The Scenes

One behind the scenes note: our newest member of the crew, Ben McDaniel spent the entire evening in the pool without a wetsuit, making the rest of us neoprene clad crew feel a lot less tough.

ALL CONTENT © 2017 BY BALLAST AND RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHT OWNERS

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